Patricia vows Lions will work 'to make this city proud'
Allen Park — After announcing the hire Monday, the Detroit Lions formally introduced head coach Matt Patricia in a press conference at the team's practice facility Wednesday.
Ditching his trademark hoodie for a suit and tie and sporting a freshly trimmed beard, Patricia expressed gratitude for the opportunity.
“Really, this is a dream come true for me,” Patricia said. “I believe that having the opportunity to be the head coach of an NFL team is a very rare and special gift. And I’m honored and grateful to be named the head coach of the Detroit Lions.”
Patricia, 43, comes to the Lions after 14 years in New England, the last six serving as the team's defensive coordinator. In his opening remarks, he laid out his expectations for what the Lions will look like under his direction.
“I want to represent the toughness of this city,” Patricia said. “We will be organized. We will be detailed. We will teach and develop our players and our coaches. We will be passionate. We will love and respect the game, and we will be committed to winning. We will be competitive in all that we do. We will have a smart, tough, fundamentally sound football team that will play, perform and can execute under pressure. We will be hardworking. We will be competitive in all aspects of our planning, preparation and our performance. We will have a high-character culture in our organization. Our players will be positive role models and contributing members of the community. We will have a blue-collar mentality. We will work hard as a team to make this city proud.”
Patricia was introduced by Lions general manager Bob Quinn. The pair worked together for 12 years in New England.
"I have known Matt since he came to the Patriots in 2004," Quinn said. "We sat next to each other in a lot of team meetings. We wanted our new coach to have integrity, leadership, work ethic and being involved all parts of our operation. We believe Matt has those qualities."
A collegiate offensive lineman at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and aeronautical engineering grad, Patricia began his coaching career as a defensive line assistant at Amherst in 1999. After two seasons, he moved on to a three-year stint as a low-level offensive assistant at Syracuse, before getting his foot in the door with the Patriots in 2004.
Patricia held a variety of roles in New England, working with the team’s offensive line, linebackers and safeties before his promotion to coordinator in 2011.
Under Patricia, the Patriots averaged fewer than 20 points allowed each of the last four seasons, something no other team in the NFL accomplished during the stretch. This past season, after allowing 128 points in the first four games, the Patricia-led Patriots defense allowed just 168 over the final 12.
During his time with the organization, the team has appeared in 10 AFC championships and six Super Bowls, winning three. He’s twice earned a ring as a coordinator, in 2015 and 2017, coming up short of another after a 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII on Sunday.
"There are not enough words that I can put together to thank (head coach) Bill Belichick," Patricia said. "I appreciate our time together. New England is a special place, and I hold it dear in my heart."
Patricia inherits a franchise that has embodied futility. The team hasn’t won a division title since 1993 and has one playoff win the past six decades. The team is one of only four franchise that hasn’t appeared in the Super Bowl, and the only non-expansion team.
The new coach isn’t concerned about the past, neither the organization’s or the struggles for former Patriots assistants who took head coaching jobs. His eyes are set squarely on what lays ahead.
“For me, whatever anybody has done in the past, that really doesn’t have anything to do with me,” Patricia said. “I’ve just got to make sure I do my best going forward and put a plan in place to hopefully have us achieve success.
“It’s all about moving forward,” he said. “I don’t know if we can really go back and look at the past. I think you can learn from the past, take a look of examples of things that happened, but I wasn’t there, so I don’t really know.”
Patricia said building a culture starts with putting together a coaching staff that shares a vision. Prior to Wednesday's press conference, the Lions announced a number of additions to that staff, most with a connection to Patricia’s past. Former Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni, who hired Patricia to work at the school in 2001, will serve as the Lions’ defensive coordinator.
Patricia also confirmed Jim Bob Cooter will remain on staff.
Jeff Davidson (offensive line), Brian Stewart (defensive backs), Chris White (tight ends) and David Corrao (director of football research) were the other new additions.